368 research outputs found

    Insuring Consumption Using Income-Linked Assets

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    Shiller (2003) and others have argued for the creation of financial instruments that allow individuals to insure risks associated with their lifetime labor income. In this paper, we argue that while the purpose of such assets is to smooth consumption across states of nature, one must also consider the assets' effects on households' ability to smooth consumption over time. We show that consumers in a realistically calibrated life-cycle model would generally prefer income-linked loans (with a rate positively correlated with income shocks) to an income-hedging instrument (a limited liability asset whose returns correlate negatively with income shocks) even though the assets offer identical opportunities to smooth consumption across states. While for some parameterizations of our model the welfare gains from the presence of income-linked assets can be substantial (above 1% of certainty-equivalent consumption), the assets we consider can only mitigate a relatively small part of the welfare costs of labor income risk over the life cycle.

    Natural Expectations, Macroeconomic Dynamics, and Asset Pricing

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    How does an economy behave if (1) fundamentals are truly hump-shaped, exhibiting momentum in the short run and partial mean reversion in the long run, and (2) agents do not know that fundamentals are hump-shaped and base their beliefs on parsimonious models that they fit to the available data? A class of parsimonious models leads to qualitatively similar biases and generates empirically observed patterns in asset prices and macroeconomic dynamics. First, parsimonious models will robustly pick up the short-term momentum in fundamentals but will generally fail to fully capture the long-run mean reversion. Beliefs will therefore be characterized by endogenous extrapolation bias and pro-cyclical excess optimism. Second, asset prices will be highly volatile and exhibit partial mean reversion—i.e., overreaction. Excess returns will be negatively predicted by lagged excess returns, P/E ratios, and consumption growth. Third, real economic activity will have amplified cycles. For example, consumption growth will be negatively auto-correlated in the medium run. Fourth, the equity premium will be large. Agents will perceive that equities are very risky when in fact long-run equity returns will co-vary only weakly with long-run consumption growth. If agents had rational expectations, the equity premium would be close to zero. Fifth, sophisticated agents—i.e., those who are assumed to know the true model—will hold far more equity than investors who use parsimonious models. Moreover, sophisticated agents will follow a counter-cyclical asset allocation policy. These predicted effects are qualitatively confirmed in U.S. data.

    While the rescue of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac was generally successful, there is still no end in sight to their conservatorship

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    Seven years ago the US government dramatically rescued the government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, placing them into conservatorship, a situation that remains ongoing. In new research, W. Scott Frame, Andreas Fuster, Joseph Tracy, and James Vickery, assess the success of the rescue using five criteria. They find that while the agencies were able to support mortgage supply through the crisis and afterwards, the rescue was less successful in supporting the government’s macroeconomic objectives. While there is broad agreement that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac should be replaced by a private system, there is no end to their conservatorships in sight

    What Happens When Regulatory Capital Is Marked to Market?

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    The Rescue of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

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